What is the Best Solo Canoe 2019

Material

Aluminium

Brand

Grumman

Length

12 ft 9 inches (3.9m)

Type

Solo Canoe

Capacity

545 lbs

Colours

Bare, Olive, Burgundy, Hunter Green, Insignia Blue

This super-light (44lbs), double-ended traditional style solo-canoe, is extremely easy to manoeuvre, even when filled to its recommended carrying capacity (very generous for a smaller boat).

12ft 9 Solo Canoe

Thanks to its tough gunnels, strong rivets and special age-hardened Aluminium alloy hull, it makes you feel confident when on wilder rivers and comfortable whilst doing longer journeys. It will consistently perform well and easy to rack alone at the end of a tough day on the water.

PROS

  • This sturdy, strong and very light canoe glides through stronger currents and is super comfortable on glass-clear lakes too, giving you a good flexibility on what you do. It is remarkably strong for its size, which means it can out-perform other composite boats.

CONS

  • It is a small boat, so for the taller or larger paddlers it may be a tighter fit. However, it is safe to carry a good amount of kit, as it has a low centre of gravity and sits nicely in the water.


Material

Tuf-Weave (50% polyester 50% fibreglass)

Brand

Wenonah

Length

14 foot 6 inches (4.41m)

Type

Expedition Solo

Capacity

 lbs

Colours

Natural or Silver Aluminium

This is designed specifically for the solo-expedition canoeist. Its styling fits those wanting to paddle a nimble canoe confidently across strong currents and down wilder rivers. The added depth means that there is more carrying volume, whilst remaining strong on white-water and still comfortable to paddle on longer journeys.

The Argosy’s lean is predicable in tight turns, helping to build confidence in trickier situations.

Wenonah Argosy Tuf-Weave Solo Canoe

PROS

  • There is a great amount of technique to learn whilst soloing on stronger rivers, so a canoe like this will add a new dimension to a paddling experience, whilst still being agile, light-weight and comfortable.

CONS

  • It is one of the bigger canoes in the solo category, but this means it has a bigger storage capability. The lightweight material means the steering isn’t compromised by its slightly larger hull.


Material

Roto-moulded polyethylene

Brand

Old Town Canoes & Kayaks

Length

11 foot 9 inches (3.6m)

Type

Solo Canoe

Capacity

450-500 lbs

Colours

Camo, Green or Red

This fits in the solo-canoe class, but has a lot of space and the width adds to the stability and strength whilst on the water. However, due to it only being 11.9 feet long, it is not advisable to stand up, as it can be rather tippy. For those wishing to only ever solo-paddle, having a light and small canoe will always make the journey a little easier e.g. the boats manoeuvrability will be much more responsive to subtle paddle strokes and re-racking at the very end will be far easier.

Old Town Canoes Discovery 119 Solo

PROS

  • It is a very compact canoe, meaning it is very agile, stable and easy to handle across a range of water types. The manufacture even states you can use either a single or double-bladed paddle too. The well fitted and durable nylon web seat adds to the ride comfort, whilst allowing for good amount of storage space.

CONS

  • Its 11.9 foot length does mean it is set at only being a solo-canoe, with its width being slightly trickier to tie on compared to longer boats. It is also a little awkward to portage, so it may be worth buying a clamp-able yoke to help with comfort whilst carrying it yourself (or a decent wheel set). The seat is bolted on 6” from the floor, so a backrest will help add some comfort too.


Material

Three layer Polyethylene

Brand

Old Town Canoes & Kayaks

Length

13ft

Type

Sporting Canoe (Solo)

Capacity

450 lbs

Colours

Purple, Orange, Blue, and Lemongrass

This is Old Town’s hybrid canoe. They claim to have incorporated both canoeing and kayaking characteristics in one small, fun and modern boat. This “Sporting” canoe boasts a pronounced tumblehome and has a lower profile in the water, hopefully making it an easier paddling experience. You can use a double-bladed paddle or traditional canoe single blade paddle, meaning that you have a unique chance to mix-up your paddling style depending on which river/lake you are taking on. The colours are very vibrant and different compared to other brands, meaning it could add a new aspect of ‘style’ into the sport.

Old Town NEXT Canoe

PROS

  • This is a fun ‘hybrid’ canoe, with the removable seat system allowing you to move into the centre of the boat if you need to paddle with a single blade. It does come with a built in yolk and comfortable carry handles, but the best part is that the flatter profile improves the handling that can rival a kayak. It has a smoother ride through the shallower rivers and gives paddlers a flexibility that more style-specific canoes lack.

CONS

  • The fusion of two styles may prove difficult for the more hardened canoeist to overcome at first. It’s always a bit tricky to trust companies that “fuse” styles, when each paddle sport has perfectly good models that fit personal preference. However, this ‘hybrid’ does boast the best of both types of boat e.g. a flatter bottom and comfier sitting position (removable) found in a kayak and an open top, robust nature and space found in a traditional style canoe (it’s also stable enough to stand up in). The cross-over features seem to fit well and offer a new style of paddling on the various water types.


Material

Cedar Wood

Brand

Wooden Boat USA

Length

16 ft (4.9m)

Type

Traditional Solo

Capacity

600 lbs

Colours

Natural Wood

It may seem that most companies are steering away from using the more old-school methods of canoe building, but that leaves a gap in the market for Wooden Boat USA to offer a very unique and beautiful piece of “art”, that sticks with the more traditional styling and ‘feel’ that this type of canoe has been known for over the years. This is a hand-built wooden solo-canoe that has lovely contouring from the wood that they use, making it suitable on the water and on a wall as a decoration.

Old Modern Handicrafts Real Canoe

PROS

  • The feel of a wooden boat has its place in many people’s hearts, especially as many paddlers dream of being able to hand-make their own canoe. This is an extremely well crafted boat. The level of detail and care that has gone into making the angles and contours, creates a really smooth and fun ride whilst on the water.

CONS

  • Because of the costs associated with making a canoe from top quality woods, it does seem to allow manufactures to put on a rather LARGE price tag. This does make people wonder why they should buy a wooden boat, as composite materials do seem to last longer and boast the benefits of being stronger and more durable. However, the ‘feel’ of a wooden boat is unlike a canoe made from man-made material and traditionalist to tend to swear by wood over composite models.


Introduction

In the paddling world, solo-canoeing is an art form. Not only do you have to power it forward, but you have to master steering all at the same time. One of the most obvious differences in this paddling style is that you can’t sneakily sit back and let the person up front do all the hard work. Solo-canoeing might be your paddling style of choice, but what if you want to paddle on different water types or go out with friends from time to time? You’re sure to find it tricky trying to tandem stroke in a smaller boat, so have you thought of buying a bigger boat? Do you say no to a bigger boat because you struggle when racking a heavier canoe? It’s definitely worth looking at which craft will suit all (or most) of your needs, so here is a short review of various solo-canoes that will hopefully give you a better idea of what’s out there:

Value

Many people say it’s all about the ‘connection’ you have with the canoe that matters, especially if you have a bigger frame or issues with kneeling. However, it is often very difficult to find a shop that lets you try out all the different boats on the market. You may be lucky to live close to a water sports club, as many offer the chance to talk with owners and possibly trial a boat or two. When it comes to what boat is right for you, you need to think about what you want from your canoe experience.

Do you want to do longer journeys or do you only like a few hours of paddling on glass-clear lakes? Perhaps you like trying out a certain style one week and then hit something wilder the next? If you have a paddling style in mind, you need a canoe that is either specifically designed to match your style or an all-rounder that offers you the flexibility to fit in with a changing lifestyle.

Remember that solo-canoes come in various sizes, some with the ability to tandem paddle too. It all depends on you and your needs. Remember size is key, as a big boat is harder to steer on your own, but you will find it tricky if there isn’t enough space for you and all your kit. If you have to rack it on your own after a hard day on the water, weight is also something to consider, so having a canoe made out of a lighter material may be something that decides your boat for you.

Solo Canoe Options

Stability is important when paddling solo. Many solo-canoes have been designed purely for added stability, but this could compromise the carrying capacity or increase the size, making it harder to paddle comfortably or efficiently. The bigger the craft, the more opportunity there is to do a variety of paddling styles or types of canoeing trips such as fishing, but this causes the boat to be harder to handle if you’re on wilder water or lesser experienced and totally on your own.

The smaller and solo-specific canoes limit your available space, even for just the one paddler, but they are far more agile and maneuverable because of their shape and weight. If you want a really smooth and efficient trip, you might be better off having a much lighter, fast moving and efficient style, but if you want something that is versatile and flexible, you may want to look at an all-rounder that you are able to competently paddle on your own too.

Things to look for when buying your Solo Canoe

Solo-specific canoes are typically lightweight, stable, agile and give you plenty of carrying capacity for one person. You need to be comfortable on longer journeys, as it is you that must do all the work, but remember that the canoe needs to be responsive when tackling the rougher waters and not too heavy when portaging/racking it on your own after a long day out on the water.

Some multi-use/all-rounder type canoes offer removable seating options, meaning you can paddle with a friend one day and solo on another. Shorter boats, with a comfortable central seating position and enough space for the longer trips, allow you to paddle on a range of water types whilst still being efficient so that you are not too fatigued because of a bad power transfer from the paddle to the water. You may want to consider a square-stern canoe, as it actually improves the canoes’ stability and you can attach a trolling motor for those lazy days.

If you’re a keen paddler and want to get out on the water as often as you can, then solo-canoeing means you don’t have to rely on someone else to go with you and you can go whenever the time is right. It’s a good idea to get used to paddling as light as possible, as you might find it harder to paddle when the canoe is heavily laden with kit. You should also get used to paddling efficiently and remember that you are going to have to lift it all on your own. It may be wise to practice on calmer waters before hitting up the wilder rivers too.

Versatility

Solo-canoes can also be used in pairs and tandems can be used as solos..! It’s all about getting into the right seating position and learning how to paddle efficiently. Be confident at leaning the subtle strokes and being stable in your boat. You can get very long canoes that are ultra-light, which are actually lighter than many of the smaller solo-specific canoes on the market. You can also clip in seats, move yolks and get canoes with three seats that are based on the improved seating positions for using the canoe both on your own and in a pair.

Safety

If you go out on your own, you must be a competent paddler. You don’t want to be struggling if you find yourself in trouble or go out on a river that suddenly turns wild. You don’t want to find yourself splashing around in the waves whilst your boat is tumbling down the river without you. If you’re inexperienced it might be wise to go out with a group, as there is always a chance that you might fall in and you’d have someone to help with a water rescue. You must wear a BA (that goes without saying), but it’s important for you to be able to bail out safely, without being snagged by any of your kit.

Conclusion

Solo-canoeing is a great pastime, especially if you like paddling more than your friends. This does mean that you really do need to find the right boat for you, as it is harder to solo a bigger model. However, if you want versatility, you may want to consider spending the time learning how to competently solo a bigger/longer canoe. This is because it is often good to have extra carrying volume if you like canoe-camping trips or use the same canoe to go on tandem paddle trips too. That being said, you need to be a competent paddler as it’s often quite an unstable experience when paddling on your own in a much larger model.

Also, if you like lake fishing or hunting on rivers, you will need a more rugged and hardwearing hull, plus choosing one that is bright and loud when paddling may not be the one for you. Each manufacturer offers their own colour scheme and boasts that their canoe offers something special. It is wise to try out canoeing in a variety of sized boats, as you can figure out if you will enjoy this style or get tired due to the difficulty caused from the obvious difference in power transfer associated with solo-paddling.

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